verb (used with object), stung or (Obsolete) stang; stung; sting·ing.

verb (used without object), stung or (Obsolete) stang; stung; sting·ing.


Origin of sting

before 900; (v.) Middle English stingen, Old English stingan to pierce; cognate with Old Norse stinga to pierce, Gothic -stangan (in usstangan to pull out); (noun) Middle English sting(e), Old English: act of stinging, derivative of the v.
Related formssting·ing·ly, adverbsting·less, adjectiveout·sting, verb (used with object), out·stung, out·sting··sting, verb, re·stung, re·sting·ing.un·sting·ing, adjectiveun·sting·ing·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sting

Contemporary Examples of sting

Historical Examples of sting

  • But this time there was a sting, of the sharpest, in the words themselves.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It was the insult more than the pain; and from her—there was the sting of it.

  • He has through His death taken from death his sting, so that I have no cause to fear him more.

  • She met his gaze with a tenderness so great that the words lost all their sting.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • She died of the sting, and was lost to him in the Underworld.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew

    Josephine Preston Peabody

British Dictionary definitions for sting


verb stings, stinging or stung

(of certain animals and plants) to inflict a wound on (an organism) by the injection of poison
to feel or cause to feel a sharp mental or physical pain
(tr) to goad or incite (esp in the phrase sting into action)
(tr) informal to cheat, esp by overcharging


a skin wound caused by the poison injected by certain insects or plants
pain caused by or as if by the sting of a plant or animal
a mental pain or panga sting of conscience
a sharp pointed organ, such as the ovipositor of a wasp, by which poison can be injected into the prey
the ability to stinga sharp sting in his criticism
something as painful or swift of action as a stingthe sting of death
a sharp stimulus or incitement
botany another name for stinging hair
slang a swindle or fraud
slang a trap set up by the police to entice a person to commit a crime and thereby produce evidence
sting in the tail an unexpected and unpleasant ending
Derived Formsstinging, adjectivestingingly, adverbstingingness, noun

Word Origin for sting

Old English stingan; related to Old Norse stinga to pierce, Gothic usstangan to pluck out, Greek stakhus ear of corn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sting

Old English stingan "to prick with a small point" (of weapons, insects, plants, etc.), from Proto-Germanic *stenganan (cf. Old Norse stinga, Old High German stungen "to prick," Gothic us-stagg "to prick out," Old High German stanga, German stange "pole, perch," German stengel "stalk, stem"), from PIE *stengh-, nasalized form of root *stegh- "to prick, sting" (cf. Old English stagga "stag," Greek stokhos "pointed stake"). Specialized to insects late 15c. Slang meaning "to cheat, swindle" is from 1812.


Old English stincg, steng "act of stinging, stinging pain," from the root of sting (v.). Meaning "carefully planned theft or robbery" is attested from 1930; sense of "police undercover entrapment" first attested 1975.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sting in Medicine




To pierce or wound painfully with or as if with a sharp-pointed structure or organ, as that of certain insects.
To introduce venom by stinging.
To cause to feel a sharp smarting pain by or as if by pricking with a sharp point.


The act of stinging.
The wound or pain caused by or as if by stinging.
The venom apparatus of a stinging organism.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with sting


see take the sting out of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.